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PLoS Comput Biol. 2016 Sep 8;12(9):e1005021. doi: 10.1371/journal.pcbi.1005021. eCollection 2016 Sep.

The C. elegans Connectome Consists of Homogenous Circuits with Defined Functional Roles.

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Department of Genetics, The Silberman Life Science Institute, Edmond J. Safra Campus, Hebrew University, Jerusalem, Israel.
Ph.D. Program in Brain Sciences, Edmond and Lily Safra Center for Brain Sciences, Hebrew University, Jerusalem, Israel.


A major goal of systems neuroscience is to decipher the structure-function relationship in neural networks. Here we study network functionality in light of the common-neighbor-rule (CNR) in which a pair of neurons is more likely to be connected the more common neighbors it shares. Focusing on the fully-mapped neural network of C. elegans worms, we establish that the CNR is an emerging property in this connectome. Moreover, sets of common neighbors form homogenous structures that appear in defined layers of the network. Simulations of signal propagation reveal their potential functional roles: signal amplification and short-term memory at the sensory/inter-neuron layer, and synchronized activity at the motoneuron layer supporting coordinated movement. A coarse-grained view of the neural network based on homogenous connected sets alone reveals a simple modular network architecture that is intuitive to understand. These findings provide a novel framework for analyzing larger, more complex, connectomes once these become available.

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